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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From Bondage to Disability, Nightmare Still Not Over for This 13­Year­Old

For 13-year-old Sushant Kumbhar, a former bonded labourer from Odisha's Bolangir district, even the basic joys of childhood, like playing with other children, is denied. His hand is full of pus and he is in extreme pain. In January, his left hand had been crushed by the owner of the brick kiln in Karnataka where the family had been forced to work.

They were finally rescued by a non-profit and the case received a lot of media attention. The Odisha government initially paid for Sushant's medical treatment. But as the spotlight faded, so did the government's will to help.

More medical intervention is required, but his parents cannot afford it.

Santosh Kumbhar, Sushant's father, said, "My son has become disabled. I sincerely appeal to the state government to give proper medical attention to this boy and provide him with a job."

In August, the Odisha Human Rights Commission directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to Sushant. A cheque was handed over, but the family said they could not encash it due to problems at their bank.

The family is also entitled to Rs. 20,000 per head as compensation and preference in government schemes under the Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act. But though the necessary certificates were issued, neither Karnataka, nor the Odisha government gave them any money.

Sources in the district administration said they were doing their best to help the boy.

Umi Daniel, Regional Head of the NGO Aide et Action, said, "People like Sushant need rehabilitation and the kind of support children need. They need basic relief and then they should be mainstreamed into education and other programmes."

Over the last three years, more than 1,100 migrant labourers have been released from brick kilns of various states, mostly through the initiative of the civil society. But most suffer a fate similar to Sushant's.

For now, the only silver lining is Sushant hasn't lost hope. "I go to school, but sometimes I'm forced to come home because of the pain. It doesn't matter that my hand is broken. I will study hard and get a job," he said.


NDTV Story First Published: November 13, 2014 23:13 IST http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/from-bondage-to-disability-nightmare-still-not-over-for-this-13-year-old-620652

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